The call can never be greater than the one who made the call

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 9:24

Some time ago, meditating upon Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh and proclaim against it the increase of the wickedness of the city before Jehovah-God, I could not help wondering how it was possible for Jonah to incur such a rebellion, and moreover, to dare to escape from His presence, as if it were possible to escape from God.

Jonah was an experienced prophet, not a novice who was just beginning to know God. Throughout the book’s account, Jonah’s extensive knowledge of the God he served is discovered,

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God is the Creator of heaven and earth,

…I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. (1:9)

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God has provoked that storm and that He does as He wants to punish the folly of those who resist Him,

Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. (1:12)

  1. Jonah recognizes Jehovah-God’s power over nature and created species to punish the rebellion and disobedience of those who serve Him,

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (1:17)

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God hears the prayer of repentance, and that for Him there is no hindrance that prevents Him from working,

I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. (2:2)

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God does not cast away forever even when He punishes,

I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. (2:4)

  1. Jonah recognizes that God has power even over death, and he calls it God,

…yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. (2:6)

  1. Jonah recognizes that salvation comes from Jehovah-God, and that only He can save,

Salvation is of the LORD. (2:9)

This statement of Jonah brings as revelation the announcement that the Messiah is called Jesus and comes from Jehovah-God. In the same text appears both the name of Jesus (יְשׁוּעָ) and that of Jehovah-God (יהוָה), which when read establish that Jesus (salvation) comes from Jehovah-God.

יְשׁוּעָתָה לַיהוָה : Salvation (Jesus) comes from Jehovah-God

  1. Jonah recognizes that his call is to declare in Nineveh the wickedness of the city and warn them of its destruction after forty days,

Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. (3:4)

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God repents of the evil that He has arranged to do upon a city if they proceed in repentance toward Him,

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (3:10)

  1. Jonah recognizes that Jehovah-God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness,

… I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (4:2)

In the face of all this discovery of Jonah’s extensive knowledge of Jehovah-God and the realization that Jonah is aware of the magnitude of his reluctance to obey Him, and even of the cost of fleeing His Presence, it is inevitable to ask, why did he refuse to obey Him?

The answer to this question comes from Jonah’s reaction and prayer when he saw that Jehovah-God commanded not to destroy the city,

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (4:1-2)

In other words, Jonah knew beforehand that Jehovah-God would not destroy Nineveh. What did it mean to Jonah that God would not destroy the city? Did it mean to Jonah that Jehovah-God would destroy the city?

In the Law of Moses it was stated that not every prophet who prophesied in the name of Jehovah-God should receive credibility simply by calling himself a prophet, not even by mentioning the name of Jehovah-God. The Law had established that the way to prove the truthfulness of a prophet was by verifying the fulfillment of what he had prophesied,

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:21-22

The Law also stipulated that cases of false prophets should be penalized with death,

And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. Deuteronomy 13:5

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. Deuteronomy 18:20

So, yes, there was a prestige for Jonah if what he was proclaiming about Nineveh was fulfilled. Jonah was angry at Jehovah-God’s change of mind about Nineveh because of the merit of his prophetic ministry. In the eyes of those who did not know Jehovah-God, Jonah seemed like a prophet without honor. And apparently, nothing that Jonah prophesied was fulfilled while he lived, judging by a single text outside of the book of Jonah where reference is also made to his ministry,

He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. II King 14:25

The “sign of Jonah” referred to by Jesus does not necessarily have to do with the three days that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, but with the discredit for his own that Jesus received about his ministry,

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. John 1:11

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. Mathew 13:57

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. Mathew 12:41

Is Jonah’s anger justifiable? Jonah lived as a prophet proclaiming words, messages from God, which were not fulfilled while he lived; Jonah lived in disrepute as a prophet because he could not validate the veracity of his message, and therefore not recognized in his time as a true prophet.

Jonah establishes a measure of evaluation for a ministry according to the Will of Jehovah-God, because the ministerial call is not to exalt the one who receives it but to do what He has commanded us to do. The ministerial call must never be greater than the one who does it, for the purpose of receiving it is to obey Him, and not to derive merit or personal benefit,

There is a risk when we want to build a ministry on images and personal prestige, it is equivalent to building towers and we can engage in apostasy,

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 2nd. Timothy 3:2

We have forgotten that choice is not by merit but by baseness,

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 1st. Corinthians 1:28

The only thing that Jonah did not know, and appears in the conclusion of the book as the teaching that Jehovah-God gave Jonah, is that God proceeds with man in the same way that man proceeds with the things he appreciates,

Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (4:10-11)

Each one establishes with his acts the measure of how he will be treated by God Himself,

Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? Mathew 18:33






All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.


Pastor Pedro Montoya

Twitter: @pastormontoya